Tiny Moving Parts – ‘Swell’ (Album Review)
Although some critics automatically dismiss anything that sounds too earnest and, whisper it, emo, Tiny Moving Parts have contributed to said genre’s continued evolution by mutating catchy tunes into spacetime-warping multidimensional pretzel shapes. Technically accomplished and happy to lead listeners through oddly metered sections aplenty, these guys walk the finest of fine lines between near-virtuosic overwhelm and passionate, singalong-inducing song delivery. 2016’s Celebrate was Tiny Moving Parts’ most impactful long-player to date, and now we get to hear what they’ve done to follow it up.
Clocking in at 32 minutes, Swell is as brief as any previous Tiny Moving Parts release. Concision is a notable TMP calling card, not to mention one of the main reasons their songs have so much impact. Profligate wanking is not something Tiny Moving Parts go in for. Instead, when you press play, you know that fat-free tracks packed with stylish substance lie ahead.
Applause sounds like Blink-182 jamming with The Fall Of Troy, leaning hard on the former’s influence while searing neurons from the outset. The word “cathartic” covers it, and the same goes for Smooth It Out, Tiny Moving Parts’ signature tapping flurries popping out at appropriate moments while this second song’s chorus section proves punchy as fuck. Dylan Mattheisen’s vocal is consistently vicious, the sentences and fragments he screams and sings open to interpretation.
Feel Alive contains some of my favourite TMP tapping lines ever; Caution offers an immediate and clear visual metaphor for emotional wariness; and Wildfire gets frustrated while pondering inevitable mortality. Swell’s biggest weakness is that each track sounds very similar to the others, intricate variations on a sound and style Tiny Moving Parts have now long established. Personally, I have little problem with this – Tiny Moving Parts are sick, and their sound is their own – but to be totally honest, beyond this point there’s relatively little to highlight as outstanding.
Swell is an exceptionally consistent and high-quality album. You can’t fault Tiny Moving Parts’ bloody-minded drive to birth trauma-exorcising music, nor is any part of Swell below-par. However, as painful as it is to say it, it becomes as predictable as math-rock is capable of being in a very short space of time.
LTK Rating: 86%
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Swell drops January 26; pre-order it on iTunes here.